April 5, 2012

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Jennifer Rubin’s post on her Friday Question reminds of the great week.

Last week was definitely a newsworthy one, thanks to three days of Supreme Court argument, the president’s open mike gaffe, the passage of the House Republicans’ budget and the consolidation of GOP support behind Mitt Romney. Some readers marveled, as Tuscany1 did, at the “historic nature” of the Supreme Courts arguments. Marylandmama put it this way: “Whatever they decide will have major implications for health care in the future and for the Presidential race in the fall.” Jafco wrote of the Supreme Court hearings: “The Court arguments, wherever they lead, exposed our exalted Constitutional Instructor as knowing about as much about the Constitution as he does about ‘shovel ready jobs.’ He’s further exposed as incompetent.”

But Jafco ( “The open mic incident suggests he’s completely untrustworthy”)and many more readers considered the hot mike incident as the one with long-term political ramifications. Timmy84 writes:

“The “hot mic” was the most important development because it gives substance to the conservative fear that the President does have a more unpopular agenda in mind for his second term (else why be concerned about electoral repercussions?). Now when the GOP nominee stumps with the claim that Obama needs to be stopped from another term of failed and unpopular policies, there is an actual event of the President’s own making to hold up as a glimpse into the future.” … 


Breitbart’s Big Government reports on the real power in the White House – Valerie Jarrett. She tells him to attack the Court, and he does.

… Obama was not Valerie Jarrett’s only project. She saw to the appointment of Van Jones as White House “green jobs” czar, noting that “we’ve been watching him…for as long as he’s been active out in Oakland.” (That activity included an anti-American rally on Sep. 12, 2001.) Her authority in the White House is almost unchallenged, and on visits to Chicago, local Democratic judges, officials and activists flock to see her and curry influence.

Jarrett attended the Supreme Court last week as it heard arguments on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Her presence as the president’s “eyes and ears” was noted by Breitbart.com’s Ken Klukowski. Jarrett had also led the administration’s media charge in advance of the Supreme Court arguments, arguing that Obamacare is necessary because it protects women’s health in particular, shaping the case to fit Democrats’ narrative of a Republican “war on women.”

As more moderate, pragmatic voices have abandoned the White House to attend to the actual business of governing–Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel being only one of many defectors–Jarrett has remained and her influence has grown. 

Jarrett endorses the idea that Obama is still a “community organizer” in the White House, and the administration’s Alinksyite tactics of race and class division bear her fingerprints as much as his own.


Daniel Foster notes Keith Olbermann’s passage from The Current.

… We don’t yet know the details of the dispute that led to Olbermann’s apparent ouster barely more than forty weeks into his five-year, $50 million contract, though the Times says Current cut him loose for failing to honor the terms of his contract. But, seriously, what kind of awful luck does he have that he keeps running into these unreasonable, unprofessional, two-timing, back-stabbing television executives? I mean, network after network after network, the same kind of low-down, no-good greedy fatcats who wouldn’t know a visionary news commentator if it bit them on the ass. Why can’t Keith just meet one nice network head who loves him for him, who understands what a precious little snowflake he is? …


Howard Kurtz airs some of Olbermann’s dirty laundry.

It was a terrible marriage from the beginning.

Just weeks after Keith Olbermann launched his nightly program on Current TV last June, his team was complaining that the network founded by Al Gore and attorney Joel Hyatt wasn’t living up to its promises to support a professional cable news show. 

The arguments escalated for months, with Olbermann directly appealing to the former vice president on three or four occasions, until relations had become so poisoned that, on Friday, Current fired Olbermann for breach of contract. He has vowed to take the matter to court and questioned the ethics of Gore and Hyatt.

Some of the disputes are fundamental—such as missing days of work—and some sound petty, but they add up to a portrait of a dysfunctional alliance that was doomed from the start. Where Current management viewed Olbermann as a chronic complainer who had clashed with the bosses before leaving his previous jobs at MSNBC and ESPN, the liberal commentator came to believe that he had joined a rinky-dink operation, even if the channel was committed to paying him $50 million over five years.

On Aug. 2, 2011, according to emails reviewed by The Daily Beast, Olbermann’s manager, Michael Price, sent Hyatt a list of about 40 “deficiencies” that needed to be corrected. Six days later, Price told Hyatt that the problems required “immediate attention” and that “we are not aware of any demonstrable effort to address the issues.”

One of management’s complaints was that Olbermann would not participate in some press and marketing events, even though he was contractually obligated to promote the network. Executives grew upset when Olbermann balked at touting the programming that followed his 8 p.m. show, Countdown. In the email, Price explained that reluctance by saying the host was being given wrong information about what was to air. It was “inexcusable,” he wrote, to repeatedly have Olbermann “identify incorrect programming following Countdown. If people cannot trust him to correctly identify the programming, his credibility on larger matters comes into question.” …

… No issue was too small to precipitate a fight. A continuous argument over which car service would ferry Olbermann, who doesn’t drive, was emblematic of the deteriorating situation. Olbermann wound up using eight different car services, finding fault with each one, sometimes objecting when drivers talked to him. …


Popular Mechanics on what it’s like to drive an electric car.

Fully charged on a brisk March morning, the all-electric Mitsubishi i’s range meter estimated that the battery pack had enough energy to travel 56 miles. That’s plenty, I thought, for the several-stop route I planned to a neighboring town and back. But as I pulled out into traffic, I flicked on the heat and watched the range meter recalibrate, dropping the estimated range down to 37. I did a quick mental calibration: A few miles to the first stop, 12 miles on the highway, 12 to return, another five to the next location, and so on. I then had a choice to make: Either shiver in the car or risk getting stranded. I chose the former.

Of course I could have made the ride a more comfortable if I’d used the car’s little remote fob to preheat the interior while it was still plugged in. The trouble is that the little receiver, which has a tiny antenna like something from a 1970′s-era sci-fi movie, isn’t at all clear. I thought I had engaged the pre-heat function, but when I got inside, the interior was the same 30 degrees as the ambient air.  …


A peek inside the North Korean GULAG from Readability.com’s review of Escape From Camp 14.

Nine years after watching his mother’s hanging, Shin In Geun squirmed through the electric fence that surrounds Camp 14 and ran off through the snow into the North Korean wilderness. It was January 2, 2005. Before then, no one born in a North Korean political prison camp had ever escaped. As far as can be determined, Shin is still the only one to do it.

He was 23 years old and knew no one outside the fence.

Within a month, he had walked into China. Within two years, he was living in South Korea. Four years later, he was living in Southern California.

Stunted by malnutrition, he is short and slight — five feet six inches, about 120 pounds. His arms are bowed from childhood labor. His lower back and buttocks are scarred with burns from the torturer’s fire. The skin over his pubis bears a puncture scar from the hook used to hold him in place over the fire. His ankles are scarred by shackles, from which he was hung upside down in solitary confinement. His right middle finger is cut off at the first knuckle, a guard’s punishment for dropping a sewing machine in a camp garment factory. His shins, from ankle to knee on both legs, are mutilated and scarred by burns from the electrified barbed-wire fence that failed to keep him inside Camp 14.

Shin is roughly the same age as Kim Jong Un, the chubby third son of Kim Jong Il who took over as leader after his father’s death in 2011.

Shin was born a slave and raised behind a high-voltage barbed-wire fence. His mother beat him, and he viewed her as a competitor for food. His father, who was allowed by guards to sleep with his mother just five nights a year, ignored him. His older brother was a stranger. Children in the camp were untrustworthy and abusive. Before he learned anything else, Shin learned to survive by snitching on all of them.

Love and mercy and family were words without meaning. …

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